Originally from Ventura, California, Chris joined the Nueva staff this year after coaching professional basketball in Chihuahua, Mexico.
While in Chihuahua, he also taught English, held summer basketball camps, and ran a successful after-school youth program.
Chris graduated from the University of San Francisco, where he earned degrees in history, and in exercise and sports science. While at USF, Chris also spent time coaching at the Drew School in San Francisco.
Following his time in the Bay Area, Chris returned to Southern California to complete his master's degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University. Chris spent ten years in public education at the high school and community college levels, teaching physical education and health and coaching basketball. His extensive summer camp experience includes coaching with the Golden State Warriors, the University of Washington, USC, UCSB, and the University of Utah.
When not teaching or rooting on the Mavericks, Chris can be found at sporting events and engaged in outdoor water activities.
1. What are your memories from when you were a young athlete?
Obviously, there are memories of buzzer-beater shots, rivalries, and close and overtime games that went both ways. However, what has truly stayed with me most are the van rides and hours spent traveling with my teammates. Many of my teammates growing up are now some of my best friends.
2. As we approach the end of year, what are some of your takeaways from leading the middle school athletics program at Nueva this year?
I feel that we are reaching the point where our desire for academic excellence is parallel to a drive for excellence in our collective athletic achievements. That might not always be reflected in wins and losses, but it is clearly evident in the way teams carry themselves. We compete with character, and our athletes across all sports were prepared and followed through on commitments.
Over the course of this year, the coaches and I saw great strides in our student athletes. They are communicating with coaches, following through, and balancing their time commitments in a way that is clearly evident to everyone involved in Nueva athletics.
3. You spent time coaching professional basketball in Chihuahua, Mexico. What did you learn from that experience that has benefited your work at Nueva?
Well, being a non-native Spanish speaker forced me to listen and be patient. Being new to Nueva this year, I have turned my listening up. I tried to be a sponge and observe what is going on — putting my primary focus on listening to students, parents, and coaches.
By being quick to listen and making an effort to take challenges step-by-step, I think it helped us to execute goals and be more thoughtful.
Similar to my time in Mexico, there are moments when I needed to put aside my desire to immediately influence and change a program in order to understand the specific needs of the community.
4. What are your top goals for the middle school athletics program moving forward?
I would love to increase student participation. We are currently near 60% at all grades, which is fantastic! While 100% would be even better, my hope is that we will be closer to 75% over the next year or so.
Primarily, I just want to continue the positive trajectory of the program. By working to increase the organization of the schedule and logistics, making continual improvements related to transportation, and streamlining the look and presentation of our teams, we can continue to build on the school pride so many of our teams and athletes have felt during the year.
5. You mentioned that over the course of the year, several of our student athletes thought you were being too nice to them in the face of defeat or a misstep during games. Why is your first instinct to lead with kindness and positivity?
Professional athletes do not dwell on the mistakes they make or losses their team suffers. They recognize the often-immediate need to put those mistakes behind them, learn from them, and then prepare for the next challenge.
I talk with my athletes a lot about looking at success through the right lens — one of growth, learning, and continued improvement.
When we leave campus or host a team on our court, I want student athletes to recognize that they are representing themselves, their family, their team, and their school. If they are doing that with pride, their best effort, and a commitment to improve — then in many ways their efforts are already successful.
Highlights from the 2017–2018 athletics season will be shared at the upcoming Athletics Celebration on Thursday, May 24, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Bay Meadows Gym. Check your Nueva homepage for more information.
By Jim Morrison, VLP Director
May 16, 2018